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GCSE Biology Topics: What You Need to Know to Ace the Exam

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GCSE biology can be both inspiring and challenging for students. There are a number of topics to revise for the exam, so to help you get organised, we’ve put together this useful guide. You’ll find a list of all the GCSE biology topics in this article.


There are seven main subject areas covered in the exam, split across two separate papers:


  1. Cell biology
  2. Organisation
  3. Infection and response
  4. Bioenergetics
  5. Homeostasis and response
  6. Inheritance, variation and evolution
  7. Ecology


Paper one covers topics 1-4: cell biology; organisation; infection and response and bioenergetics.


Paper two covers topics 5-7: homeostasis and response; inheritance; variation and evolution; ecology and key ideas.


Each paper lasts one hour and 45 minutes and is made up of multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response questions. For more information on the GCSE biology test format, please visit the AQA website.


Each of these eight subject areas are broken down into a variety of topics that students might be assessed on come exam day. You can find more information about each of these topics below:


Cell Biology Topics


  • Animal and plant cells
  • Eukaryotes and prokaryotes
  • Cell specialisation and differentiation
  • Microscopy
  • Cell culture
  • Cell division
  • Transport in cells


Organisation Topics


  • Organisation principles
  • The human digestive system
  • The heart and blood vessels
  • Non-communicable disease (heart disease)
  • Health issues
  • Lifestyle effects of some non-communicable diseases
  • Cancer
  • Plant tissues
  • Organ system of plants


Infection and Response Topics


  • Communicable (infectious) diseases
  • Viral diseases
  • Bacterial diseases
  • Fungal diseases
  • Protist diseases
  • Human defence systems
  • Vaccination
  • Antibiotics and painkillers
  • Discovery and development of drugs
  • Monoclonal antibodies
  • Plant disease


Bioenergetics Topics


  • Photosynthesis reaction
  • Rate of photosynthesis
  • Glucose use from photosynthesis
  • Aerobic and anaerobic respiration
  • Response to exercise
  • Metabolism


Homeostasis and Response Topics


  • Structure and function of the human nervous system
  • The brain
  • The eye
  • Body temperature control
  • Hormonal coordination in humans
  • Maintaining water and nitrogen balance in the body
  • Hormones in human reproduction
  • Contraception
  • Infertility
  • Plant hormones


Inheritance, Variation and Evolution Topics


  • Sexual and asexual reproduction
  • Meiosis cell division
  • DNA structure and genome definition
  • Genetic inheritance
  • Inherited disorders
  • Sex determination
  • Variation and evolution
  • Selective breeding
  • Genetic engineering
  • Cloning
  • Understanding genetics
  • Fossils
  • Extinction
  • Resistant bacteria
  • Living organism classification


Ecology Topics


  • Communities within ecosystems
  • Changes in ecosystems
  • Ecosystem adaptations
  • Organisation within ecosystems
  • How materials are cycled
  • Decomposition
  • Impact of environmental change
  • Biodiversity
  • Waste management
  • Land use
  • Deforestation
  • Global warming
  • Maintaining biodiversity
  • Pyramids of biomass
  • Food security
  • Farming techniques
  • Sustainable fisheries
  • Biotechnology


The Best Way to Revise GCSE Biology Topics 


Biology is the study of life and living organisms, which teaches us all about humans and our surrounding environment. The skills students can learn in biology are transferable and can be applied practically to everyday life. When starting your revision for GCSE biology, make (and stick to) a revision plan. Make space for each topic outlined above, so you know you’re fully prepared for whatever questions might be asked in the exam.


GCSE biology is a content-heavy subject, so it’s important to summarise your notes to make it easier for you to revise. Use visual aids, rewrite notes using colour, use bullet points or different strategies that best suit your learning needs.


GCSE Biology Practice Tests


Our GCSE biology revision packs can help students become familiar with question command words. Understanding what the question is asking you will help to structure your answers and achieve the highest marks possible.


Our biology packs cover all eight topics in the GCSE biology syllabus and have been created by former GCSE biology examiners. As part of the process of creating our packs, we thoroughly analysed examiners’ reports from previous years to ensure we have every question type covered. To prepare you for every eventuality, we’ve even included some of the most difficult questions that you’re likely to come up against in the exam.


When using our GCSE revision papers, we highly recommend timing yourself, to ensure that you complete the questions and exam papers in the required time. Our practice paper questions cover all the essential areas of the exam and are written and developed by former GCSE biology examiners and markers.


When preparing for the GCSE biology exam, we recommend using the following practice pack:



GCSE Biology: Key Skills



Related posts:

GCSE Biology Study Tips

How to Pass GCSE Biology

How to Revise for Biology GCSE

How to Study for GCSE Biology

GCSE Biology Games

GCSE Biology Revision Tips

GCSE Biology Test Format

GCSE Biology: Key Skills Pack – Providing Essential Exams Practice and Preparation

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